Queen Rania's Speech at the Education for Employment (E4E) Initiative Report Launch

A New CV for the Arab World

April 13, 2011

Thank you, Alex, for those kind words…

And thank you all for coming together today… whether here in Amman, Rabat, Cairo, or Washington.

I’m especially pleased to have with us Robert Zoellick of the World Bank Group, Dr Abdelaziz Hinai of the Islamic Development Bank, and Lars Thunell of the International Finance Corporation. Through their respective organizations, they are working hard to overcome the demanding demographics of our age, and support young people here in the Arab world. Thank you all very much.

Education for Employment, is just the latest way in which they are investing in our youth. I am proud to be here to support everyone who has worked on this report, and share its important findings.

Because the truth is, E4E could not be more timely or more urgent.

We’ve long lamented the figures: the 60% of our region under the age of thirty…the 25% of our youth in the region, unemployed.

We’ve long talked of the solutions: the necessity for quality schooling...the need for better links between classroom and labor-force.

But lament coupled with lethargy and a lack of resources have led to only one thing: frustration.

And we have seen that spill onto the streets across the Arab world in recent months.
I understand that frustration. I understand that when you work hard in school and pass your exams and go to university or learn a trade… you should have a fair chance of securing a decent job…one which interests you, challenges you, provides you with a good standard of living, and leaves you with a sense of fulfillment. That is not an unreasonable desire. That is a respectable dream.

But for too many young people in the Arab world today, it is a pipe dream…because when they graduate, their CVs read something like this:
Teaching methods…obsolete
Careers advice…negligible
Entrepreneurial training…fledgling
Soft skills…under-valued
Vocational experience…stigmatized

A CV like that doesn’t compete in global markets; it doesn’t secure executive jobs; and it doesn’t command high salaries.

It leads to an uncertain future. And the young people of the Arab world deserve better than that.

They deserve better than that because they didn’t create this problem; no one sector did. But, now, we need all sectors to solve it.

We need a new regional paradigm. And thanks to E4E, we have one.

E4E calls for collective action, joint responsibility, and shared progress.

From Damascus to Doha…Beirut to Bahrain… Amman to Algeria, E4E urges us to up our game and work together.
Governments must create an enabling environment for the private sector.

The private sector must bridge gaps between schools and job markets.

Schools must increase the quality of education they provide.

Civil society institutions must expand training opportunities.

And youth must explore new avenues to gain experience: entrepreneurial, voluntary, vocational. Anything that’s going to rewrite that résumé with catchwords which resonate with employers. Words like: ‘critical thinking’, ‘competitive spirit’, ‘problem solver’, ‘entrepreneurial’, ‘innovative’…

Because at the end of the day, this isn’t the CV of one young person; it’s not the CV of a generation of young people; it’s the CV of the entire Arab world…and it determines all of our futures. That’s why we need to get it right, now.

Thank you very much.